Resist Urge to “Rescue” Young Wildlife

Resist Urge to “Rescue” Young Wildlife

Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation | May 8, 2017

Springtime brings renewal in nature. It’s a time of abundance when new life and new growth emerge, continuing the ancient cycle that defines the outdoor world.  Unfortunately each spring, well-meaning people interrupt nature’s balance because they want to “rescue” newborn and young animals that, at first glance, might appear to be abandoned.

“If you find newborn wildlife while in your yard or in the woods that appears to be alone, chances are an adult animal is nearby and is simply waiting for you to move along so they can take care of their young,” said Melynda Hickman, wildlife diversity biologist for the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation.

Fawn in tall grass
This spring, many people will walk up on a fawn that appears to be alone. Biologists say it is best to resist the urge to help because adult animals are likely nearby. [MATT JOHNSON / READERS SHOWCASE 2016]
People who happen across a hatchling bird or a young fawn are urged to leave them and move away from the area. “It is common for fawns to remain in a safe place while does feed nearby, and interfering with that always causes more harm than good. It’s also best to leave birds, young squirrels and other wildlife alone as well.”

Biologists say that people trying to help can actually be more stressful on young wildlife than if those people would have simply left them alone.

“The willingness among well-meaning sportsmen and outdoor enthusiasts to want to help is a good thing, but choosing to allow nature to run its course is often the best help we can offer young wildlife,” Hickman said.

Not only is it best to not interfere in nature, it also could be illegal. Many people don’t realize there are laws that protect most wildlife species, and those laws prohibit people from handling or “rescuing” wildlife.